3 Tips for Hiring a Lawn Service Company

3 Tips for Hiring a Lawn Service Company

So those are kind of the top three things that I look for. Again, number one is a fact are they reputable. Whether it's online, or from referrals from your neighbors. Number two, do they have good customer service? I can tell you when you give that phone call, that initial shot, if they don't call you back right away, or they don't call you in a reasonable amount of time, you're kind of looking to what the service is going to be looking like for the future. And number three, are they insured?

Tips for Sidewalk Snow and Ice Removal

Tips for Sidewalk Snow and Ice Removal

In hopes for the desperate need of snow in the Sierra Nevada Region it is time to talk about winter weather. The freezing temperatures come with a whole lot of snow and ice that can makes maintaining your sidewalk extremely difficult. Apart from the inconvenience they create, slippery surfaces constitute risk for your health.  Furthermore, most HOA’s require you to keep your property and the surrounding area clean and safe. Otherwise you might become subject of severe penalties in the form harassing letters or. Patio cleaning is not the dream activity for filling your free time. Still, if you know how to do it properly you can save time and efforts.  

How to Prepare Your Lawn For the Winter (Guest Post)

How to Prepare Your Lawn For the Winter (Guest Post)

Winter is coming fast. It is time for big holidays, with a great deal of shopping, decoration, cooking, having guests over and a ton of other activities. People spend more time inside their houses, and often times completely forget about their lawn area. It is one thing you should certainly find time for, unless you want to risk an ugly green patch in spring, or even other drastic problems, such as broken pipes and a whole ton of trouble. Preparing the lawn for winter is something you should do in late fall if you want to have a beautiful grass in spring. With heat and dryness are at end, it is time to take some steps in ensuring your grass is just as good next year as it was this summer. So, after you are done with patio cleaning, turn your attention to the lawn, if you want to grow one that is admirable and presentable.

Helpful Spring Tips: Aeration and Dethatching

Helpful Spring Tips: Aeration and Dethatching

Why Dethatching and Aerating Your Lawn is a Good IdeaIt's natural to think that in order to dethatch there must be thatch somewhere. Thatch is simply the built up layer of dead grass clippings that accumulates in your lawn just above the soil. Thatch is actually good for your lawn because it helps provide a barrier to prevent disease and other harmful things that might kill the grass. Thatch also allows the soil to retain moisture by not letting water evaporate too quickly.

Top 3 Things to Consider Before Hiring a Lawn Care Service

Top 3 Things to Consider Before Hiring a Lawn Care Service

Spring is almost here and you might be debating whether or not to hire a lawn care service to take care of your weekly maintenance. Maybe your equipment is in the dumps, you don't have the time to worry about the lawn, or you have a little extra cash and want to relax on the weekends instead of working your butt off in the yard. As a professional lawn service provider, I would suggest thinking about the following three items so you can feel confident in your decision. Whether you are hiring the local high school kid down the street, or a professional "big boy" service, here are my two cents on what to consider.  

How to Fix a Broken Sprinkler

How to Fix a Broken Sprinkler

Most broken sprinkler heads involve a simple fix that any home owner can do. The temptation might be to call a service that specializes in sprinkler head replacement, but this could cost upwards of $50.00 for a simple repair that anyone can do on their own.  If your pop-up sprinkler has been broken because of a mower, edger, or string trimmer hitting it, the cost will usually be less than $5.00 and only take a few short minutes to replace.  

How to Repair a Damaged Tree Hit By a Mower

It almost doesn't matter how careful you are or how much you try and avoid nicking trees with a string trimmer or mower, over time it is bound to happen. The key is to not leave the damaged tree unattended, and there is a very simple way to help a damaged tree after a chunk has been taken out by a mower. This situation happen to one of my employees recently, which provided the perfect opportunity to show what should be done if a tree is damaged by a mower. The video below is a real situation where the rear tire of the the mower clipped the base of a tree and took out a 3" chunk of bark. Since the trees in the neighborhood are only a few years old, this damage could end up killing the tree if it is not attended to. It is important to recognize the damage right away and keep the bark that has been torn away from the base. By reapplying this piece of bark, like a missing puzzle piece, and duct taping the damaged area to prevent insects and other diseases from harming the tree during its recovery, the tree should heal over a 3 to 6 month period of being wrapped up and cared for.

 

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UPFmqkN6z8g[/youtube]

Golf Course Review 3 (Lakeridge Golf Course)

Lakeridge Golf Course is one of the staple golf courses of Reno, NV. While it is one of the top recommended courses for tourists to play, it is also a Reno local favorite. The course is a 6141-yard Par 71 located just off of the south McCarren loop. While many of Reno's newer courses boast a desert landscape, Lakeridge was established in 1969 and has several old growth trees across all 18 holes. Lakeridge has several great features to offer, and after my round this past week I would like to offer my pros and cons of this great Reno course.

Pros:

1.) Locals Rate: I am not sure if this is a new feature to Lakeridge, but this year I noticed they started to offer a mid-week, $55.00 locals rate. I believe this is well worth the cost for guys like me who have played it multiple times, and especially for those who have never played it. Although this rate is not low enough to make it an every week go-to course, it is reasonable enough for tight budget Reno locals like myself to try and make it out once a month.

2.) Golf Carts: These carts are absolutely the top of the line in Reno. The carts include a very detailed GPS software with an additional GPS distance locator on the back, which no other course in town offers. The carts also offer a self braking mechanism that doesn't require the operator to set a parking brake. I know it is kind of strange to speak so highly of golf carts, but they are extremely helpful on this course and are included in the course fee.

3.) Scenery: The old growth that surrounds this course is unlike any other course in Reno. It allows trees, lakes, and streams to come into play for a majority of the holes. Their signature hole 15, a Par 3,  provides some of the greatest views of the city. While the scenery from this tee box is spectacular, the hole itself is not very friendly and is almost impossible to hit, especially if there is any wind present. Depending on the wind conditions, it seems standard to take 4 clubs to the tee box and just guess which one might get you to the green.

4.) Greens: While many courses I have played this year are suffering from dry winter conditions, which have affected their greens, the Lakeridge greens were in great shape. The difficulty level of the greens is on the easier side, which allowed me to make up some strokes from water balls on previous holes.

Cons:

1.) Rate of Play: Due to the popularity of this course, the rate of play is rather slow. I have yet to play this course in under 4.5 hours, even during the mid-week twilight time. Given the sophisticated GPS trackers on board, I would hope to see a Marshal on the course in the future to help the speed of play.

2.) Difficulty: I have yet to play the "tips" on this course, and if I was a better player I probably would. I find myself playing the traditional "Lakeridge" tees, which normally involve a t-shot and then a gap wedge or less to get on the green of most holes. Many of the par 4s on this course seem rather short for anyone that can drive 280+. Although this helps my game and I should not be complaining, I find myself attempting to drive the green on holes 1, 3, 5, 14, 16, and 17. This might not seem like a complaint because it is a major advantage to have a long drive, but the length of the course is definitely shorter than some others in Reno.

Overall, I love Lakeridge Golf Course and strongly recommend any local to take advantage of the "locals deal" they offer, which I don't normally recommend for many of the other courses in Reno.

Tips for Perfect Sod Grass Care (Guest Blog)

So you’ve planted your sod grass and now have to maintain it. There are a number of ways to properly keep your newly sodded lawn from becoming dried out. Take a look at these steps and follow them closely to have your lawn looking its best.

 

 

  • Water - Even if the type of grass you’re growing does not need lots of watering, you still have to give it some for proper growth. The best recommendation is to water your lawn daily but only if recommended for your type of grass. Water is essential for anything to grow, it aids in the root establishment and gives the soil moisture.
  • Fertilizer - You want your lawn to look healthy, especially as you have invested money and time into this project and want it to be perfect. Fertilizers help this task by giving the grass all the vital nutrients it needs to grow and look its best. There are several different fertilizations that make sod grass grow well:
      • Phosphorus Fertilization - This type helps strengthen the roots.
      • Potassium Fertilization - Its main objective is to build a defense against harsh climate changes and diseases.
      • Nitrogen Fertilization - This one is not long-lasting, but aids in the advancement of grass.
  • Mowing - An easy and effective way to keep your grass growing to its fullest potential is to mow it. This helps maintain the right level of growth capacity. Some sod grasses do require that the clippings be bagged or raked immediately after mowing. Cut grass left on your lawn may suffocate the new grass and prevent it from growing. Others types do not need to be raked. This is related to their ability to feed off of the cut grass, which provides it with nutrients. Research which type of grass you choose to plant first.

Things that should be used at a later date to keep a healthy lawn:

  • Irrigate - Like watering your lawn daily, you will also need to irrigate it. This will help in building the roots up and is done by literally poking holes in your new yard. You can do this with the use of cleats like professional athletes wear. Walk around your newly planted grass, then water. This will help get moisture into the soil and aid in the winter months when the ground tends to get hard and brittle.
  • Pesticides - You may lose your lawn if it is not properly cared for. Insects and other animals such as gophers tend to feed off of grass. A good way to avoid this damage is to spray your yard with a pesticide. These are made to keep insects and animals from feeding off of your lawn. Some of the new pesticides on the market are safe for use around children and harmless to family pets.

If you've failed to maintain a healthy lawn, you can always start over by getting sod laid by a professional if you click here. These are surefire ways to keep your lawn healthy and maintained. Proper care is needed when planting grass at first. You will need to tend to it daily to ensure its fullest potential before being able to enjoy it.

Summertime Mowing Tips

Summertime is here and it is time to make sure that your lawn and lawn equiptment is not neglected. It is very common for people to apply that first fertilizer application, set the sprinkler timers for spring conditions, and then think that the lawn will be just fine the rest of the season. But just as the weather changes and gets hotter, your lawn's demand will also change for what it needs to keep the lush green that it had in the spring. Below are some tips that I would recommend to consider to keep your lawn and lawn equiptment in tip top shape for the rest of the season.  

 

 

1.) Check your Sprinklers:

It is very common for sprinkler heads to mysteriously rotate their direction and start watering the pavement instead of the lawn. This could be due to a mower knocking the sprinkler head, edger clipping the side of it, or even just a loose sprinkler head twisting on its own. Since most sprinkler settings are for early morning it is hard to visually see if all the sprinkler heads are still spraying in the correct direction. To check the system, manually activate the timer and double check that every sprinkler head is running correctly. This might involve manually replacing a broken sprinkler head (approximately $3-$15 per head), or just using a small flat head screw driver and some elbow grease to return the sprinkler to the correct position.

2.) Increase watering times:

If you are starting to see the lawn lighten up in color your lawn might need more water. Double check your watering times from what was originally set for the spring and either add another watering time or extend the current watering times a few more minutes. In the summer it is better to have a deep watering cycle so the roots of the grass extend deep into the soil instead of depending on short shallow watering application. This will help the turf in times of drought, but don't over water to the point where severe runoff is occurring.

3.) Fertilize:

This is a good time to apply a second round of fertilizer to your lawn. Most spring application (quick release fertilizer) will last between 4-6 weeks. It is recommended to apply a slower release fertilizer that will last for approximately 8-10 weeks. Ask your local fertilizer dealer for details about the benefits between quick release and slow release fertilizers to see what works best for your lawn.

4.) Increase mower height:

While most lawns can handle a shorter cut during the spring, the increased heat and periods of drought will cause extra stress on your lawn during the summer. Think of possibly increasing your mower height just one or two "notches" (approximately 1/4" to 1/2") higher than what the lawn was previously being mowed at.

5.) Check your equiptment:

This is a good time to see if you lawn mower and other equiptment needs any maintenance done on it. Check the oil level, sharpness of the mower blade, air filters, spark plugs, and edgers blades to see if anything needs to be replaced or maintained to help the life expectancy of your equiptment. This can either be done on your own with the help of an operation manual or by a local small engines shop for a rather minimal cost.

 

 

Re-seeding a lawn in Reno, NV with Scotts EZ Seed

This week I decided it was time to reseed my lawn because of damaged dog urination spots, digging, and general dog craziness. In the past, for small dog spots I have generally chosen to use Scotts EZ-seed. This product has worked great for me in the field for small bare spots, dog urination damage, and thin grassy areas. This time I decided to put Scotts EZ-seed to the test by applying a 20lb bag to an approximately 10'x10' bare patch to see if it is worth acquiring the $50.00 bag to fill in a larger damaged area. My hope in this process is to do one of two things:

1) Encourage home owners who may not have the know how or the resources to reseed a larger area by the traditional methods to use EZ-seed

or

2) To see if this product works best only in smaller areas and is therefore not worth the money to reseed a larger one.

The video below will show the complete process I undertook in using Scotts EZ-seed on my lawn. I used the EZ-seed in the proper manner, from the prep work to the watering, in hopes that this product does not disappoint. Since I have seen many of my customers use this product incorrectly, I wanted to make sure that I documented that I have done everything possible to ensure success in reseeding my lawn with EZ-seed. Although this product is expensive, I hope that in a short time I can come out heavily recommending anyone to use this product for larger reseeding areas, instead of the traditional methods.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=llgvr9J9XQ0[/youtube]

Golf Course Review 2 (Bailey Creek)

Located two hours north of Reno is a great vacation destination known as Lake Almanor. Here you can find great local restaurants, skiing/fishing boating, along with some great golf. Last week I had the opportunity to play Bailey Creek Golf Course for the fourth time and I plan on returning again and again. After golfing so many desert courses in Reno, it is always a pleasure to get away and play a mountain course that has so much to offer. Bailey Creek opened in the year 2000 and  is a 7040 yard Par 72. The course offers some views of the lake and near by mountains, in addition to offering a multitude of fun and challenging holes. Although my scores at this course normally do not reflect my ability to play the game, I have to say it is an exceptional golfing experience each time I play it. My most recent experience (with golf partner Kyle) involved showing up just before 4pm on a Friday with no tee time booked. To our surprise, we were greeted with a cart at our car door side and a relatively open course to play on. Since this course is primarily used by weekend vacationers, I would recommend playing at any time midweek, or plan on playing a twilight weekend rate to avoid a large backup. Bailey Creek offers a wide variety of twilight and midweek rates that are able to attract cheap golfers (like us) to play such an exceptional course. After paying our $40.00 Super Twilight Rate we were ready to tee off by 4:10pm. Besides a mix up and some tension at the tee box with golfers who were "at the turn" (because they originally tee'd off at hole #10), the course was relatively open and a quick rate of play.

Although I can talk forever about the great things about Bailey Creek, there are a few things to watch out for as a golfer this year. One challenging aspect about this course is the large amount of dogleg left holes, which is unusual for many courses I have played. If you are a right handed golfer with a killer slice, plan on spending a lot of time in the woods searching for your golf balls. Secondly, the course's Par 5s seem relatively short and easily attainable in 2 shots from the "blue" tee-box, which can probably be corrected by playing "the tips". Finally, the main concern specifically this year was the condition of the greens. While every rough, fairway, and bunker seemed to be in exceptional shape, the greens were pretty beat up, which is probably the result of a harsh dry winter. I have played Bailey Creek in previous years and realize this is not standard for their greens. The photos below were the case for about 30%-40% of the greens in play, which sometimes had a major affect on the trajectory of the putt.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In the end, Bailey Creek is still an amazing course. Although some of the 18 greens had significant wear on them, the rest of the course was in great condition. I would recommend for anyone to take a day or weekend trip to Lake Almanor and play Bailey Creek, especially with the great twilight and midweek rates, not to mention the nice restaurant and bar to hang out at after the round.

Learning to Let Go and Trust Your Employees

There are so many benefits to being an entrepreneur, but at the same time there are also many headaches. For most of us, there inevitably comes a time when we are unable to be in complete control of our business and therefore must trust and rely on the training and leadership of our employees to run it in our absence. This became a reality a few weeks ago when I left the country for two weeks and had to rely on my relatively new employees to complete the landscape maintenance of 268 homes, all while providing the same customer satisfaction that we strive to provide. One of my employees dislocated his shoulder wrestling with friends just days before I left, so I was at a point of absolute panic thinking that my business would implode on itself while I was away. It was not until I returned and saw that everything was still intact that I realized how dumb it was to freak out so much as to whether or not I had trained my employees enough. Below are some pointers, suggestions, and ideas I realized after going through this experience.

1.) Trust your Employees:

If you are the great boss that you believe you are and you have trained your employees to the standards of your business, allow them to take the reigns of your business in different forms. This doesn't mean dropping the business as a whole on their lap and saying "deal with it," but it means allowing them to make decisions that you as the boss would normally make. This can be as simple as speaking with a client, or as big as making business decisions while you are away.

2.) Train your Employees:

In a small business situation it can be the temptation to just train your employees to do the basic things they need to do when you're around. Since you will not always be around, whether you are on vacation or are sick, it is important to train your employees to take over for you when you are gone.

3.) Don't Freak Out:

When the time comes that you are away from your business and have to leave it in the hands of your employees don't freak out. If you have trained them properly and you have trust that they can complete the job or run the business while you are away then there is no point to run the worst case scenario over and over again in your head. Trust that your employees will rise to the occasion.

 

 

Central Park

I had the pleasure to check out and explore Central Park for the first time. In the heart of New York City lies ones of the largest and most spectacular city parks in the United States. The park consists of 843 acres which includes several softball fields, open meadows, bridges, carousels, lakes, ponds, zoo, etc. The park consists of 24,000 trees and 843 acres of land and water that is all maintained by the Central Park Conservancy. Central Park has a $34 million dollar annual budget and was established as a National Historical Landmark in 1962. The list could go on and on about this place and all I have to say is don't miss the opportunity to visit central park while in Manhattan. While at the park I had a unique opportunity to take a quick video to share what I had experienced in the short time I was able to explore. Since Central Park consists of 250 acres of lawn I found it appropriate to find out about some facts of the lawn by calling the Central Park Conservancy while I was was there. Although New York is on the east coast, they are also considered to be a cool climate region like Reno, NV. After talking with the staff from the Central Park Conservancy I found out that the parks lawns are predominantly Kentucky Blue Grass like we have in Reno due to their similar year round climate. According to a study in 2008, the park uses approximately 5.28 million gallons of water a year to water all the lawns in Central Park. If you have a chance to go to New York City, plan on spending a full relaxing day to explore this amazing area and don't rush to take in the amazing scenery and lakes this place has to offer.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JGvPye5cqUU[/youtube]

3 Ways to Prevent Bad Business (The Burger King Experience)

 

While traveling back from Canada this week I found myself in LAX Airport searching for food to hold me over till my return to Reno. Since the options were slim and the lines were long, I chose to wait in a 20+ person line at Burger King since I was in no rush for my next flight. While the three cashiers were working hard at pumping people through the line, there was still a limit as to how fast Whoppers can cook and french fries can deep fry. Before I knew it there were more people who had ordered and were now waiting than people in line to order. I found myself holding ticket order #89 as the server said, “Number  62!!!” at which I realized I would be here for  some time.

The Burger King WaitWhile I sat back and watched the angry mob tap their feet, look at their watches, and start to panic, it was evident that Burger King was doing their job as correctly and efficiently as possible, but it was the inpatient customers who were just not smart to order if they were pressed for time before their next flight. There were two specific people that demanded that their food be served to them right away or they would miss their flight. The lack of patience was beyond me and it was obvious that there were just a few customers that realized Burger King was doing everything they could.

So why write about this experience? This was one of the few times that I witnessed a business that was failing by doing everything right! Many people ended up getting their food and walking away frustrated even though the employees at Burger King were working as fast as they possibly could. Although this is a unique situation due to the different customer base in an airport, other businesses should know how to react if the demand is way greater than what can be supplied.

1.)    Be real with your customer up front:

In the case with the Burger King situation, it would have been helpful for the cashiers to give the customer a heads up regarding the approximate wait time before the customer committed to buy. With my business, this means being honest with a customer that if I am busy it might be a few weeks till I can get to a job, even if that means losing the bid anyway. I would rather lose the job than have a person pissed off because it took me an unreasonable time to complete. What does this look like for your business?

2.)    Keep the customer informed:

Since patience is so hard to come by these days it is important to keep the customer informed on what the holdup is. In the Burger King situation, there was a delay on the fries to be cooked so the server was smart to make an announcement to the angry mob as to why it looked like everyone was standing around (this was due to waiting on an item to cook).

3.)    Smile and Apologize:

It is strange how this step does so much and is understandably hard for an employee to swallow his/her pride and apologize for something they didn’t do wrong. Sometimes you can rectify the situation by just being nice in the end.  A simple, “I am sorry sir for the wait, I hope you enjoy your meal” might just make up for the impatience of the customer. Although a pissed off customer probably won’t hurt this specific Burger King, due to it being in an airport without a consistent customer base, it hurts the business as a whole if a customer walks away believing that “every Burger King has slow service” which will prevent them from returning to any Burger King in the future.

How to Mow Straight Lines on Large Yards

While training new employees I have found that mowing straight lines in larger yards is not something that comes easily for some people. It almost seems inevitable that if you are using a walk behind mower and traveling a longer distance your first line is going to be crooked. This is problematic because it's the line used to base the rest of the mowing pattern off of. I have created a brief video to show how I used a crooked first line as a means to develop straight lines. Although this might seem basic to some people, I have seen many home owners and lawn care companies mow entire yards based off of an initial crooked line, ending up with a wavy pattern in the grass.

The video below demonstrates how to produce straight mow lines after starting off with an "S" shaped line.

Once the crooked first pass has been completed, look for the section of it that has the straightest line. In this case, the beginning of my first pass had the straightest point, so I lined the wheel up with the wheel pattern of the first 50' or so and overlapped the end of my first pass. Now, after two passes, I have corrected the latter half of the first line.

I complete my third pass by repeating what I did with my second line, overlapping the final portion that remains crooked. After three passes I now have two straight lines as well as a straight reference point from which to mow the rest of the lawn.

[youtube]http://youtu.be/3uKQSYX_UDU[/youtube]

How to Save Money on Your Lawn When it Rains.

This memorial day weekend has reminded us that it actually does rain in the high desert. We have seen two straight days of rain, and, depending on your area, according to the National Weather Service you have probably accumulated somewhere between .30 and .50 inches of rain. We do not get that much rain during the summer in Northern Nevada, so we should use what God has provided us wisely and not waste water. This will inevitably save money. The cool season grasses that we have in Reno normally require between 1" and 1.5" of water per week to maintain health. It is very hard to pin point the exact amount of water that comes out of an irrigation system, but a rough average I have found is somewhere between 4 and 12 gallons per minute. This completely depends on the size of your piping, sprinkler heads per zone, number of zones, and types of nozzles you use, but for most residential homes we can give this ballpark estimate. If you actually want to calculate how much your irrigation system uses, this LINK can help you determine that amount.

So How Do You Save Water and Money?

First things first. For those of you that do not want to calculate it out, just check with the National Weather Service to see how much rain your region accumulated, and, if it is around .5", then it is probably safe to assume that you can change your irrigation timer from "AUTO" to "RAIN DELAY" or "OFF" for your next assigned watering day. Just don't forget to turn it back on later in the week! For my home with 4 zones I water for 10 minutes each zone, 3 times per watering day, and an average of 8 gallons per minute is used. This comes out to be 960 gallons of water saved just by shutting my irrigation system down for one day.

More Advanced Ways to Save Water and Money:

For anyone who is looking at a more permanent way to save money and water throughout the season, you can install a RAIN SENSOR that works with most irrigation timers. Instead of assuming how much water your lawn needs, this system will determine the amount of moisture in your lawn and will activate the sprinklers when watering is appropriate. The upfront cost of this might be a little hard to swallow, but I have had customers that have saved up to 30% on their water bill over the season, which means the Rain Sensor will eventually pay for itself overtime.

Golf Course Review 1 (Grizzly Ranch)

One of my favorite hobbies is golf. I freaking love golf. Although I do not have a registered handicap, I normally shoot in the mid to high 80's and get the pleasure of playing many different courses in northern Nevada. So I am going to blog about the courses I play to offer an opinion on two things: 1.) The condition of the course itself, and 2.) the "bang for your buck" experience at the course. While it seems that many courses can charge whatever they want because people will pay it, I have watched three courses in my area close down in the past five years. It seems like golf courses have not adjusted their strategies to fill up tee times and still insist on charging an arm and a leg rate. In my golf review blogs, I intend to give my 2 cents worth to people who enjoy playing nice, fun, challenging courses without sacrificing their first born for the cost of 18 holes. I also hope to speak with some grounds keepers to get some of the ins and outs of golf course maintenance. I'm a lawn guy, I care to know how some of these courses stay in such great condition.

This week, a few friends and I had an amazing opportunity to play Grizzly Ranch Golf Club. Most people have never even heard of this place because it is tucked away in the Sierras near Portola, CA, but it is one of the most beautiful golf clubs around.

It is well worth the short 50 minute drive from Reno to play this beautiful mountain course if you can find a good rate that the club house will honor. I say "honor" because Grizzly Ranch recently offered a text message coupon for a 2 for 1 round (which would equate to $40 per person), and my foursome planned to use two of them.  They only accepted one.

The stipulations were that you had to text the coupon that said "share with friends" to your friend, then show it at the club house.  However, they denied one of our discounts because we did not send the text message until after we arrived on site, rather than before we got there. We debated the club house attendant over this unstated detail, but we lost.

After all the time spent driving we did not want to turn back to Reno, so we just sucked it up and paid three rates between the four of us, which came out to $60 a piece. I do have to say, however, that unlike other courses that charge $60.00 Grizzly Ranch is still a great deal. (Their peak season rate is $109.00). Still, we were pretty pissed because no matter how nice your course is, you honor an advertised coupon to draw first time players back. Their stubbornness left a bad taste in our mouths.

After our club house debacle, we teed off with only 10 other players on the course for the whole day. While this is amazing for the players, this shows why courses like Grizzly Ranch need to find better ways to attract mid-week golfers when no members are around. The course conditions were near perfect and had little to no evidence of wear from the dry winter, like many of the courses in Reno are experiencing, but there was virtually no one there.

The greens were in great shape but were very slow due to the morning dew, as well as the fact that they had not been cut in a few days. The course was challenging and in such great shape that I would go back with another discounted rate. Their twilight rate of $89.00 is too rich for my blood, but I would recommend taking the time to drive up there and play if they offer another coupon. If you do go with a coupon, just be prepared to read the invisible fine print before you make the drive.

Watering your Lawn 101

Now that we are a few weeks into the mowing season and the weather is warming up, many people are wondering how much they should water their lawn using a programmable irrigation system. I wish that there was a single answer like, "water these three times and I guarantee you will have a green lawn," but, unfortunately, it is not that easy. However, there are some watering times that are better than others, and some basic tips to see how much water your lawn needs, so let me help you with your lawn watering questions in the Reno area. When Should I Water?

After reading this you will realize this is common sense for the Reno area, but we live in a desert. During the summer, from early afternoon through late afternoon it normally gets hot and windy. If you water in the late afternoon you will most likely experience a higher evaporation rate, as well as water blowing into the streets instead of your lawn! Considering this, I recommend loading up and watering your lawn between the hours of 4am and 10am.

How much should I water?

This is where things get a little tricky, but the rule of thumb is to make sure your lawn is getting 1" of water a week. Some gauge this by placing a tuna can in the middle of the yard and measuring the water accumulated throughout the week. If you perform this test, realize that some areas of your lawn are probably exposed to the sun for longer periods of time throughout the day, so set up the can in a shaded spot as well as a sunny spot for a more accurate measurement.

What To Do If You Have Brown Spots:

Most people assume that if their lawn is developing some dead spots it is due to some type of lawn disease, but this might not always be the case. Normally, brown spots are due to poor sprinkler coverage. If you have some dead spots you should check the sprinkler coverage before jumping to any other conclusions. All you have to do is turn on your water and see if the brown spots are being reached by the sprinklers. You will be able to quickly tell if the sprinkler heads have been knocked out of place or broken.

Are There Days I Can't Water?

The answer to this question is "yes." Here is Reno, we have assigned watering days set by Truckee Meadows Water Authority, which states:

- Even Address: Watering Days = Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday

- Odd Address: Watering Days= Wednesday, Friday, Sunday

Anything Else?

The good news about the Kentucky blue grass that is mainly grown in Reno is that it is able sustain a rather long drought period, like the ones we see during the winter when the lawn goes dormant. So, if you have brown spots, forgot to activate the irrigation system, or went on vacation and your water was shut off, then there is a good chance your turf will be able to withstand this period of drought. Also, make sure not to starve your lawn by under watering it, and make sure to water on your assigned TMWA days or you might end up with a fine for failing to follow the rules.

 

Dethatching Lawns in Reno

Dethatching is something that is normally done in the Spring and often coincides with the aeration process. Just like lawn aeration, dethatching is done in to allow nutrients, air, and water to have better access to the root system. Areas of the country consisting of tall fescue and perennial ryegrass do not have to worry as much about a heavy thatch layer build up, but unfortunately Reno consists of mainly Kentucky blue grass, which does tend to have a quicker build up of thatch growth. A small layer of around 1/2" thatch growth can actually be beneficial for your lawn because it can help protect the turf from the hot summer sun, help prevent weed germination, as well as reduce water evaporation. Although there are some great benefits to dethatching, it is important to make sure that if you hire someone to "power rake" the lawn it is not done right after the lawn has been watered. Unlike lawn aeration, which normally gets better core penetration just after a good soak, dethatching a wet lawn can leave you with damaged and ripped up sections of turf. Another important factor after power raking is to make sure that the loose thatch is properly raked up instead of left on the grass or mowed over. Some companies attempt to just mow over the loose thatch, but this will mulch up the dead stems and roots and put them right back into the lawn. The other day, we took a minute to shoot a quick video to show you just how much thatch is pulled up after dethatching a single 30 foot strip. From a distance this lawn does not look like it has a thick thatch layer, but once the power rake gets rolling you can see just how much dead stuff has been removed. Check out the video to get an better idea of what dethatching is and whether or not your turf might need it done. [youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H3eLWyVjoDI[/youtube]